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G. Maddux to throw first pitch on Opening Day

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers announced on Wednesday that Greg Maddux will throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day at Globe Life Park.

The Rangers open the season on March 31 against the Phillies at 1:05 p.m. CT, with Yu Darvish on the mound. The game is a sellout.

Maddux, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in July, is beginning his third season as a special assistant with the Rangers. He is the brother of pitching coach Mike Maddux, who will receive the ceremonial first pitch.

The Rangers had considered Michael Young, who retired this offseason after a 14-year Major League career, and are planning a special night for him at some point early in the season.

"When Greg Maddux was elected as a first-ballot Hall of Famer in early January, he became an obvious choice for the Opening Day first pitch, and we are honored he accepted our invitation," vice president John Blake said. "Once Michael Young announced his retirement, we put plans in motion to honor him with a day early in the season, and he is very comfortable with that plan."

Maddux, who was born in San Angelo, Texas, retired in 2008 with a record of 355-227 and a 3.16 ERA over a 23-year career with the Cubs, Braves, Dodgers and Padres. He was an eight-time All-Star and won four Cy Young Awards and 18 Gold Gloves.

Maddux will be inducted into Cooperstown on July 27. Rangers broadcaster Eric Nadel will be honored the day before with the 2014 Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence.

On April 11, 1994, the Rangers hosted the Brewers in the first regular-season game at The Ballpark in Arlington. The pregame ceremonies featured an unforgettable performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra accompanied by Fort Worth resident and award-winning classical pianist Van Cliburn.

Nearly 20 years later, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, under music director Miguel Harth-Bedoya, will return to play the national anthem, performing on the field as it did in 1994.

"It's a great honor to celebrate this anniversary with the Texas Rangers and re-create that historic moment in memory of our dear friend Van Cliburn," said FWSO president and CEO Amy Adkins.

A large U.S. flag will be unfurled in center field by soldiers from the Dallas Army Recruiting Battalion, and airmen, soldiers and Marines from the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth. A large State of Texas flag will be unfurled on Greene's Hill by members of the Dallas Army Recruiting Battalion. The colors will be presented by Company B of the Texas Rangers Law Enforcement from Garland.

Following the national anthem, there will be a flyover of vintage war birds from the Cavanaugh Flight Museum in Addison. Country recording artist Neal McCoy will sing "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger.

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